Survivors’ info can be given to health funds

Thousands of people will receive financial aid and discounts on medical supplies in the coming days.

The Knesset’s Constitution, Justice and Law Committee lifted a ban Monday on transferring the names and data of Holocaust survivors to national health funds, thereby paving the way for thousands of people to receive financial aid and discounts on medical supplies in the coming days, said a spokeswoman for the Welfare and Social Services Ministry.
The move followed a hearing two weeks ago in the Finance Committee, at which chairman Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) called on the government to stop stalling on the decision to distribute the already approved benefits.
Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog welcomed Monday’s decision to lift the ban on sharing Holocaust survivors’ information with the health funds, and said the move would now enable them to receive their much-needed benefits.
The government made the decision to provide survivors with subsidies for essential medical supplies and services more than two years ago. However, bureaucracy and disagreements among the ministries of health, finance and welfare and social services meant that the additional benefits have yet to reach the survivors.
Earlier this month, the ministries involved reached an agreement on the final points of the NIS 50 million-a-year benefits package that will provide some 80,000 survivors with up to a 90-percent subsidy on essential health and medical supplies.
According to a 2009 study conducted by the American-Jewish JointDistribution Committee (JDC) Meyers Brookdale Institute, many Holocaustsurvivors suffer from cardio-vascular disorders and chronic emotionalgrief related to their experiences. Many of the medicines needed totreat these conditions are not adequately covered by the health funds.
This time last year, official figures estimated that roughly 270,000survivors were living in Israel. Out of that number, nonprofitorganizations working with the survivors have suggested that one-thirdof them live below the poverty line, struggling to survive on a statepension and very little additional assistance or benefits. In somecases, survivors must decide between purchasing food and medicines on adaily basis.